Am I Good Enough For Oxbridge? Applying to Oxford or Cambridge University

So you’re asking yourself the question: am I good enough for Oxbridge? The fact is that there is no one person who is perfect for Oxbridge. Both universities are full of students from all over the world and yes, you could be one of those students. In fact, Oxford University has a section of its website dedicated to proving that yes, Oxford is for you. The one real requirement is that you are passionate about your subject and can demonstrate it.

In this respect, you might not be good enough for Oxbridge yet. You do have to develop in-depth knowledge of your subject built upon a true passion for academic study. But with a bit of support, you could be just the applicant that Oxford or Cambridge are looking for.

Plenty of our team have studied at Oxbridge or previously worked in Oxbridge admissions. So, if anyone has the know-how to make your application as perfect as possible, it’s us. This blog will hopefully offer you some insight but it’s just a fraction of our knowledge. If you think you’d like a helping hand with your application, we can put you in touch with experienced admissions tutors who will guide you through it from start to finish.

Also, make sure that you check out our more recent blogs on:

1. Do you have the right grades?

The truth of the matter is that if you have the right grades this does not guarantee that you will be offered a place to study at Oxford or Cambridge. Having the right grades is however absolutely essential for getting your foot in the door. There are entrance requirements and subject requirements for every degree. Go to the university’s website and look at the entry criteria. Do you meet what they’re asking for? Because if you don’t have the grades, it’s unlikely that you’re good enough for Oxbridge – however there are exceptions to this.

Need to improve your grades? We’ve got top-tier A level tutors that can help you reach your true potential. Don’t let you grades get in the way of your Oxbridge dreams!

2. Do you know what subject you want to study?

You should already know beyond a shadow of a doubt, what degree subject to study. This is because during the application process, the university is going to be analysing the depth of your passion for study. If you don’t know what subject you want to study at undergraduate yet, it is likely that you don’t have a strong enough passion for one subject. And you need that strong passion to shine through your personal statement and your interview. You need a love for your subject above all else. So if you haven’t picked your degree subject yet, you need to pick a discipline you absolutely love. If you don’t have strong feelings for your subject, you’re probably not good enough for Oxford or Cambridge.

3. Are you ready for the difficult application process?

Oxbridge applications are multifaceted compared to other applications. You not only need to be thoroughly interested in your subject, you also have to be the right fit for the ethos of the university itself. Both Oxford and Cambridge University have several measures of your suitability. You will need to write a perfect personal statement, sit an admissions test (Cambridge and Oxford have different tests), and go to an interview.

The application process is long and it will be unlike anything most students have experienced before – unless you are reapplying to Oxbridge. Be prepared to put a lot of extra work into the application than you would for any other university. You should only do it if you really want to.

Don’t forget, our expert admissions team can walk you through each step of the admissions process and ensure that your application is the best it can possibly be!

4. Do you have knowledge of your chosen topic beyond A Level?

For your personal statement, you will need to discuss your topic in much greater depth. You will either have to explore a common topic in a new way (e.g. Brexit from a different angle) or a niche idea (e.g. 12th century German history). For a humanities subject, think about what you are interested in studying for your dissertation. If you have time over the summer before you submit your Oxbridge application, you should start your research. Find a topic that you can self-study in detail. Read several books on the topic so you have a good understanding of different perspectives. You need to be well read in your subject area. So get to those books!

Note that all students applying to university for 2023, 2024 or 2025 will still be required to submit a UCAS personal statement as normal. However, from January 2025 onwards (October 2024, for Oxbridge applicants), there will be changes to the UCAS application process and students will no longer be required to write a personal statement. Instead, all applicants will answer a series of shorter, more tailored questions provided by UCAS.

Should I choose Cambridge or Oxford?

Ultimately, the answer to this is personal and unique to you. Consider the following:

  • Grades: Grades are expected and considered before anything else. In short, Oxford and Cambridge expect you to have their required grades, and even then, having them might not be enough. However, it’s important to note that Oxford has one grade requirement lower than Cambridge. Hence, you might want to apply to Oxford if you only just meet Cambridge’s grade requirements, or fall a little below them. Although, it’s worth noting that, for this reason, more people can apply to Oxford than Cambridge so the best way to stand out academically is by exceeding the average.
  • Interviews: It’s important to note that Cambridge interviews most of their applicants who meet the academic requirements, thus their final decision is often based on the interview itself. Contrastingly, Oxford takes a holistic approach. Oxford considers your prior academic attainment as well as your predicted grades, as well as any admissions tests and written work, and finally your interview. Oxford’s focus is more spread out. Meaning, that each step holds value and must be polished. For Oxford, your profile should be well-rounded. For Cambridge, you can win them over with your interview – should you get one.
  • Admissions test: Both Oxford and Cambridge require admissions tests for many of their courses. Obviously, achieving a high score on these tests is important and will boost your application. However, once you know your course, it’s worth comparing the required admissions test for both Oxford and Cambridge. It could be the same test, however, if it’s different, try out practice tests to decide which you could excel at most. We have an article which clearly specifies all the Oxbridge admissions tests which you can read here.
  • Personal fit: Check out the campus (via virtual events, in-person open days, summer school, or programmes for secondary school students) and decide what suits you best. You should consider the societies and colleges on offer, campus culture, and the city itself. Definitely check out your department at each university and chat with your potential professors – not only to decipher whether you’re a good fit but also to network and have names that you can mention in your application. Having a good rapport with existing professors can be very helpful in the admissions process. 

Still unsure? Reach out to our expert Oxbridge admissions team who can assess your individual circumstances and advise you on which university to choose as well as which one you have the best shot at. We can improve your application and maximise your chances of success!

So what now?

Hopefully, this blog has given you some food for thought in terms of your application. Perhaps you are now even feeling energised to take on the challenge ahead. It’s very normal to wonder if you are good enough for Oxbridge. Every successful applicant has felt doubt at some stage because everyone knows how difficult it is to be offered a place. But it could be you next!

If you’ve been rejected from Oxford or Cambridge, check out my other blog on this topic for our suggestions on what you can do next.

Get 1-to-1 guidance from an expert admissions tutor

At the Profs, we have many admissions consultants who can guide you through the process of applying to Oxbridge, as well as LSE, Imperial and other top universities. In fact, Oxbridge applicants are over 3x more likely to receive an offer when working with the Profs’ experts, and over 90% of our applicants receive an offer from their first or second choice universities. We can even support you in your wider degree-level education, helping you with everything from writing your dissertation to applying for postgraduate courses. Reach out to our friendly team today to access our dedicated support.

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